When you get behind the wheel, you and your passengers need to wear seatbelts. It’s the law. Well, New Jersey has become the only state to start enforcing a “click it or ticket” law that applies to our FURRY family members, too. New Jersey is cracking down on any pet owner whose pet is not properly restrained in the car.

That means, no dogs in the truck bed… No cats roaming around the backseat… No teacup Yorkie sitting on your lap as you drive. Dogs must wear a harness and be secured – and cats must be in a secured carrier. Letting your pet roam around your car violates animal cruelty laws. But nearly 90% of dogs in cars are NOT restrained. And, in a crash, a 60-pound dog not secured in a car traveling at 30 miles-per-hour suddenly becomes 27-hundred pounds of force.

Experts say that’s like a baby elephant hitting your head – or the windshield. Pets that aren’t secured can also jump or fall out an open car window. Or, after an accident, they can dash into traffic. In fact, insurance companies say that most animal-related auto claims stem from pets leaping out of a moving vehicle.

So although New Jersey may be the first place to enforce this law, buckle up your pets for your safety and theirs. And a ticket will mean a fine from $250 to $1,000 – and up to 6 months in jail.

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